Former Iranian military hacker behind Game of Thrones leaks

Iranian hacker Behzad Mesri in an FBI handout

Iranian hacker Behzad Mesri in an FBI handout

Acting Manhattan US Attorney Joon Kim called Mesri "an experienced, sophisticated hacker who has been wreaking havoc on computer systems around the world for some time".

Although Mesri is not in custody, prosecutors made a decision to publicly charge him and put him on the FBI's most-wanted list to send a message to outlaw hackers that U.S. law enforcement has the means to identify, track and get them arrested if they travel to countries where the United States has better relations, acting U.S. Attorney Joon Kim said.

United States prosecutors have charged an Iranian man for hacking HBO and stealing 'Game Of Thrones' scripts.

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However, the Federal Bureau of Investigation has released a wanted poster of Mesri, seeking more information about him and stating that he is wanted for his alleged involvement in crimes including computer fraud and aggravated identity theft.

Bezhad Mesri, the hacker known as "Skote Vahshat", has been charged with hacking into and stealing episodes, scripts, and plot summaries from HBO, between May and August of this year.

He said: "Unfortunately I suspect this will not be the last time that we charge cyber offences against hackers with ties to the Iranian government".

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A warrant has been issued for his arrest, and should he get caught, Mesri could face up a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison: "up to five years for each of the four charges related to computer fraud; a two-year mandatory sentence for aggravated identity theft; and up to two years in prison for the extortion charge".

Documents show how Mesri began research into HBO's computer networks and staff in May 2017. He also gained access to scripts from Ballers and Room 104. Included was an image of "Game of Thrones" Night King character, leader of an army of zombies, with the words, "Good luck HBO". "Beware of heart attacks". The hacker demanded $6 million in bitcoin from the media company and threatened to release more confidential information if his demands weren't met.

But there is nothing in the indictment suggesting Mesri targeted HBO on behalf of Iran's government or with its financial support, said Collin Anderson, a US -based internet researcher who specializes in Iran.

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In a statement Tuesday, HBO said it was working with law enforcement but declined further comment.

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